As Clan Donald Lands Trust reaches its half century milestone we take a look at some of the achievements of the past 50 years.
There’s so much to mention, and we’ve only been able to pick a few highlights here. Look out for our #CDLT50 posts on social media to see more stories from the archives. And don’t miss our museum exhibition opening in March 2022, celebrating Armadale Castle past, present and future.
Acquisition by the clan community: The death of Alexander Godfrey Macdonald, 7th Lord Macdonald, in November 1970, necessitated the sale of the Macdonald Estates in order to cover death duties and inherited honourable debts. With the encouragement of Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton, President of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, the young Lord and Lady Macdonald set off on a 10-week fundraising appeal across North America in May 1971.
The support amassed on this appeal allowed the Clan Donald Lands Trust (CDLT) to come into being. On 31 July 1971, the Trust completed the purchase of the 20,000 acre estate it holds to this day. It was, in effect, one of Scotland’s first community land acquisitions.
Visitor Centre opens: The mid-1970s were spent reclaiming the gardens and rebuilding the end section of the castle – the remains of the original 18th century manor house – to create a visitor centre. Opening in 1976 it provided a focal point for visitors, housing a tea room, museum and gift shop. The main part of the castle was in a poor state of repair and could not be restored.
Finance for the Visitor Centre project was generously provided by Canadian benefactor David MacDonald Stewart, whose patronage had been invaluable since the early days of the Trust. With his tragic early death in 1984 the Trust lost one of its greatest supporters.